Newly constructed hospital in Bandipora on verge of collapse

A view of damaged health centre building in Bandipora district. -Excelsior/ Abid Nabi
A view of damaged health centre building in Bandipora district. -Excelsior/ Abid Nabi

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, July 25: Painting a grim picture of rural healthcare, a newly constructed building of a health center at Sirinder village of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district is falling apart before being handed over to the Health Department.
Nearly six months back the Health Department deputed its staff in the under-construction building without any formal orders. “We had apprehension that the residents might take over the building and use it for some other purpose. It was a mutual decision of Health and Roads and Building Departments,” said an official at the Roads and Buildings Department, which is executing the project. He, however, feigned ignorance regarding the crumbling of building, saying that the building was incomplete due to lack of funds.
Within three months of shifting, the building appears to be on the verge of collapse and a large portion of the broken roof is dangling from the ceiling making it extremely dangerous for the patients and staff. “It is an investable disaster as a large part of the roof has broken and is hanging from the ceiling. We feel unsafe near the building,” Sameer Ahmad, a resident said, adding that the lack of monitoring encouraged the contractors to use sub-standard material on the building, leaving the building unsafe for the visitors.
The health center is located nearly 20-kilometers away from the district headquarter at a village called Surinder. The village is settled on the lap of great Harmukh range of snow-capped mountains and is mostly hilly. The whole population is dependent on the health centre for health services but an unsafe building has added to their problems.
The residents said that they donated land for its construction as authorities promised a quality infrastructure and a better healthcare facility. “They constructed a building that did not last a few months. It can fall anytime,” he said.
To worsen things for the residents, the health centre is operational with a lone staffer performing his duties in an unfurnished room. The other two rooms are left vacant, while the incomplete washrooms have been kept as storage rooms for the construction material.
Chief Medical Officer Bandipora, Tajamul Ahmad, when contacted, said that he would look into the matter and resolve it.